New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has never been shy about community outreach. He often spends much of his free time helping with charities, visiting children's hospitals and, when the country was gripped in sorrow following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012, Cruz was there to not only comfort the family of young Jack Pinto, but the entire town of Newton, CT.
Cruz is a man who loves people. All people. So when he learned about 19-year-old Joey Kemmerling, who was bullied relentlessly after coming out as gay in middle school, the Big Blue wide receiver was right there to help him overcome his fear of the locker-room — a place that was often the scene of torment for Joey.
"After I came out, the locker-room was the last place I wanted to be," Kemmerling said. "It was full of homophobia. … You could hear a pin drop every time I walked into that locker-room. I avoided that locker-room at all costs."
Drawing from his own personal experience of bullying and segregation, Cruz was able to relate to Joey in a way. And as the two shared their stories (seen in the above video), Cruz was clearly shaken by some of what Joey had to deal with.
Ultimately, like Cruz, Joey was able to overcome his torment and bullying. And not only did he overcome it, but he became stronger and more influential because of it.
Kemmerling would go on to launch a youth-led anti-bullying organization, which became active with the nonprofit GLSEN, where he speaks to students, educators and even members of the Government to help raise awareness for this sort of bullying, and also to help those endure as he's endured. And now, with the help of Cruz, he's been able to overcome his fear of the locker-room.
"I think as players, we want to be that voice to say that it's OK be gay and play football and basketball and baseball," Cruz says. "It's not ok to be bullied."
Kudos to both Cruz and Kemmerling for doing their part to make this world a better place.
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